ROCK – Job training and workforce education are offered by numerous government
entities in Arkansas. That’s part of the problem.
and duplication create confusion for people who want to improve their job
skills, and they are inefficient uses of tax dollars.
that in mind, legislators approved Act 1079 earlier this year, to bring all
career education and workforce training into one system. They will be under a
board known as the Career Education and Workforce Development Board, whose
members will be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.
will represent the agriculture, construction, energy, health care, information
technology, manufacturing, financial services, hospitality, transportation and
rehabilitative services industries. One of their primary duties will be to
eliminate the duplication of efforts that now exists.
preamble to Act 1079 notes that “significant inefficiencies” exist in job
training efforts due to duplication. It may seem counterintuitive, but the
overlaps and duplication also create gaps in course offerings, resulting from
“important programs being overlooked as presumably covered by another program.”
new Board is charged with bringing “consistency, efficiency, and rigor” to job
training programs, and with ensuring that they measure up to industry
enacted another new law this year to provide industry with more influence in
job training. Act 55 changes the composition of the state 12-member Higher
Education Coordinating Board, increasing from six to nine the number of members
who shall be selected from business, industry, education, agriculturally
related industry, and medical services, and who shall not be current members of
a board of a public two-year college or four-year university.
944 of 2019 is meant to increase the availability of job training courses
offered by two-year colleges. It allows colleges to market themselves, offer
courses and provider services to anyone in the state, regardless of the service
area in which the person lives.
22 percent of Arkansas adults have earned a bachelor’s degree. About 31 percent
have an associate’s degree or have attended college but not earned a
a person with a high school diploma, the most in-demand job is food preparation
and serving of food. The second is retail sales.
most in-demand job for people with an associate’s degree is driving a
tractor-trailer or heavy truck, and the second is nursing assistant.
the jobs available to people with a bachelor’s degree, the most in-demand job
is as a registered nurse. The second is general operations management.
reason for the number and variety of job training programs is that there are
numerous paths to employment. Some people enlist in the military, and then look
for a job after their discharge. Some go straight into the job market from high
school, while others take technical classes in college.
people learn job skills at adult education centers. Several agencies send
instructors to local industries for people who already have jobs and who want
to improve their skills. Some people enter the workforce through apprenticeship
take job training and adult education courses that are required in order to
receive Medicaid, food stamps or welfare. Some people have physical or learning
disabilities, and get jobs after completing occupational therapy.